Courts wrap up poll cases

The Sunday Mail (Zimbabwe) - - NEWS - Sharon Mun­jen­jema

SPE­CIALISED courts for elec­tions-re­lated crim­i­nal cases are wind­ing up their work, with 90 per­cent of mat­ters hav­ing been com­pleted.

Chief Jus­tice Luke Mal­aba des­ig­nated 57 mag­is­trates to pre­side over pre-elec­tion, elec­tion and post-elec­tion po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated vi­o­lence and re­lated of­fences.

Th­ese spe­cial courts were gazetted un­der Gen­eral No­tice 379 of 2018 to en­sure a peace­ful at­mos­phere dur­ing this year’s elec­tion cy­cle.

In a re­cent in­ter­view, Chief Mag­is­trate Mr Mishrod Gu­va­mombe con­firmed that over 90 per­cent of the 307 cases re­ceived by th­ese courts had been com­pleted.

“From 25 June up to 7 Septem­ber, we have re­ceived up to 307 cases of elec­toral-mo­ti­vated of­fences. I can safely say over 90 per­cent of them have been ex­pe­di­tiously com­pleted.

“We pri­ori­tised them and never had prob­lems with them. In Harare, we are only left with the (Tendai) Biti case and the Au­gust 1 vi­o­lence case,” he said.

The bulk of the cases came from Harare (112).

twenty-six MDC Al­liance sup­port­ers and func­tionar­ies were ar­rested fol­low­ing vi­o­lence that rocked Harare on Au­gust 1. They were ac­cused of in­cit­ing pub­lic vi­o­lence and were granted $50 bail each.

Tendai Biti, one of the prin­ci­pals of the MDC Al­liance, was ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the same case and was granted $5 000 bail.

Most of the re­ported cases were of peo­ple de­fac­ing ri­vals’ cam­paign posters.

Mr Gu­va­mombe said the spe­cial courts only dealt with crim­i­nal cases, while civil cases like chal­leng­ing re­sults of an elec­tion were han­dled by a di­vi­sion of the High court, while a chal­lenge of re­sults of a Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion are han­dled by the Con­sti­tu­tional Court.

High Court Reg­is­trar Mrs Faith Mushure re­cently told The Sun­day Mail that 28 pe­ti­tions were filed coun­try­wide af­ter this year’s elec­tions - a sharp drop from the 110 af­ter the 2013 polls.

Of the 28, 19 are chal­lenges of Na­tional As­sem­bly re­sults, and nine chal­lenge lo­cal au­thor­ity out­comes.

In terms of Sec­tion 182(1) of the Elec­toral Act, the Elec­toral Court Di­vi­sion of the High Court has six months to com­plete each elec­toral pe­ti­tion.

Ap­peals can be lodged with the Supreme Court, which has three months to com­plete cases.

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